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The much-misunderstood Surface RT
In my original review of the Surface RT, I concluded, "This is a product that will get better with age."
That turned out to be exactly right. The Windows 8.1 Preview has breathed new life into this device, thanks to the presence of Outlook, a much-improved Music app, and a user interface that is noticeably snappier.
As a result, I find myself picking up the Surface RT and happily using it more often these days than ever before. It lasted for an entire nine-hour Dallas-to-London flight a few weeks ago, as I did a little work and mostly listened to music and watched movies.
If Microsoft had priced the original Surface RT differently and been less cocky about its sales potential, it wouldn't have had to take a huge writeoff. In that alternate universe, this very slim and well-built device might have been seen, properly, as a great first effort. Instead...
At any rate, I'm looking forward to Surface 2 more than the Surface Pro 2. I can't be the only one.
HP's Envy X2: one of the first Windows 8 hybrids
I first saw this hybrid back in September 2012, a month before Windows 8 was officially released. My first reaction when I picked it up was “Whoa. This thing is light.” And because it has one battery in the detachable base and another in the tablet portion, it got about 14 hours of use between charges in my testing.
My original review noted:
Overall, I had high expectations for the Envy X2. Maybe they were too high for the device itself to live up to. In use, the hardware limitations occasionally made themselves very noticeable, with tasks that would take seconds on a Core i5 or i7 dragging out. The limited RAM and storage exacerbated that feeling.
A bigger problem with the Envy X2 is the same issue I felt with the Samsung. Because the system was designed, by necessity, with all of the electronics in the display, the unit feels top-heavy and slightly unbalanced when used on a lap.
On a desk, the hinge mechanism lifts the base and keyboard to a nice angle for typing, and the weight is well balanced. But on the lap the display has a tendency to tip over backwards, leading to one inadvertent crash test on a carpeted floor. (The Envy X2 passed, thank goodness.)
Read the original review here.
Dell's XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook thinks outside the clamshell
This was another review unit. Here's the money quote from my original review:
Make no mistake about it: This is a PC first, and a tablet second. At 1558 g (3.4 lb), your arms will tire if you try to hold this thing for too long. But it’s quite solid in your lap, and it’s perfect on an airplane tray table with the screen flipped to the back and tilted up to a comfortable viewing (and touching) angle. That’s great for watching a movie, reading documents, or doing light editing in coach seats where a full-size Ultrabook won’t open properly.
Give Dell credit for creative thinking with this design, but the short battery life and 3.4-pound weight were offputting for me. Since then, Dell has refreshed this model with a 4th Generation Intel Core CPU, and I'd look at it again.
Read the original review here.